The Reincarnation of the Dalai Lama

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Tibet: The Role of Dalai Lama in Exile Politics and Tibetan Nationalism

Tibet has subsequently been under the leadership of Dalai Lama dating back in the 17th century who played an integral role of exile politics intertwining religion and politics in Tibetan nationalism. This was mainly articulated through provision of a powerful uniting force among in Tibetan nation, However, though providing a powerful uniting force for the Tibetan nation, Dalai Lama title has earned moral legitimacy interweaving religion and politics without incurring problems hence being uncontested (Kolås, pg. 51). Until recently the Chinese government has expressed its dissatisfaction after the current 14th Dalai Lama declared himself as the last line of Dalai Lama reincarnations leader of the Tibetans nation dating back to the 15th century. China has vowed to influence the next reincarnation and selection of the successor of Dalai Lama through the Chinese Communist Party. However, this conflict between Tibet and China has existed over the past decades with China demanding to fully take over Tibet without success hence oppressing the monks (McConnell, pg. 162). This paper attempts to demonstrate the existence of unsuccessful efforts China as the government in influencing the choice of the rightful Dalai Lama in Tibet with aims to influencing the entire culture into its subordination. However the Tibetan has remained firm through their monks refuting to be a community in China but instead exist as an independent nation led by it Tulkus as leaders selected under reincarnation as reviewed by the outgoing Damai Lama.

Reincarnation and its Significance in Tibetan Buddhism

Reincarnation is based on the Buddhism aspect of living things being trapped on an endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth common referred to as "samsara." Thus it is based on this believe we human being are impelled by forces of mental, physical and verbal actions (Tuttle, pg. 36). Karma, hence being reborn inform of six possible forms which include, hungry ghosts, creatures in hell, human beings, animals and gods entirely depend on the nature and strength of karmic latencies. It is from this concept that reincarnation is formed entailing cycles of loss and sorrow that occur when human beings possessing these realms unwittingly accrue prevailing psychic tendencies which often lead to both pleasant and unpleasant births. These births are according to the subtle and complex operations of their own Karma. It is from these that consequent Dalai Lama are identified by the outgoing one and located by the monks, reincarnated to be one of the Tulku, a group of Lamas, through Mahayana concept of bodhisattva, the identical and fully enlightened Buddha (Kolås, pg. 53).

Chinese Government's Attempted Influence on the Selection of Dalai Lama

Naturally, this position of the Damai Lama has attracted the interest of various parties outside the religion especially the Chinese and Mongolian particularly in interference with its spiritual selection aspect. With attempts to succeed from the failed missions of Mongolian in 1717, in 1959 the Chinese government took advantage of dismiss of the present Dalai Lama to India, by asserting its influence on the religious belief of Tibetans (Goldstein, pg. 88). It continued this in 1992 by allowing representatives of Kagyu sect emerging from Tibetan exile in India to enthrone a boy identified from eastern Tibet as an official reincarnation of Karmapa Lama and head of Kagyu School who was one of the most important tulkus as per the Tibetan Buddhism. In addition to that in 1985, the PRC and office of the Dalai Lama confirmed the candidature of Orgyen Trinley under the unprecedented accord. After staying under the supervision of the Chinese government the boy escaped and made his way to India until he denouncement of the PRC. Upon his return, the boy opted to stay at Dharamsala and he is perceived by many as the incoming Damai Lama after the departure of the current 14th Damai Lama. From the action of the return of the this boys the Chinese government has had to establish various mechanism to prevent reincarnation from taking place, efforts that have been fruitless due to lack of knowledge on the specific child. It majorly relies of rumors which are hardly true. Occasion the Tibetans have heard their Damai Lama disappear for long period of time, others returning while others not. However they have always left legacies and outspoken achievements due to their nature supremacy as being leaders who are chosen by spiritual forces. It is clear these Chinese government actions in relation with the Tibetans aims at achieving a hidden agenda as witnessed it several attempts (Goldstein, pg. 90).

Manipulation of Reincarnation: The Case of Panchen Lama

In addition to that PRC has had blatant attempts to manipulate the reincarnation of the tulku in 1995 with the case of Panchen Lama which was the second most important element in Tibetan Buddhism. Damai Lama together with his associates in India with the support of Chadrel Rinpoche had secret missions to identify the rebirths of previous Panchen Lama. This was done in the Monastery of Panchen Lamas as demanded under the Tibetan culture (McConnell, pg. 165). Thus upon a unilateral announcement by the office of Damai Lama, the Chinese government was seen actively pretending to be in support and officiating the process by taking the selected candidate together with his family under a house arrest. This was together with the Chadrel Rinpoche to avoid the actual selection process from taking place. Instead, the government made a proposal and selected its own candidate and endorsed him as the newly selected tulku. This was with aim of totally taking control and extracting the entire culture and society by having its own Damai Lama who would not oppose any proposal by the Chinese government. This would deformalize the entire Tibetan community and society hence making it to be under the leadership of the modern China government. In addition to that, it proceeded to legitimize its choice by employing the ancient "Golden Urn" the activity of drawing of names and the birthdays of candidates inscribed from ivory slips and on the metal urn(Kolås, pg. 55). This has been used today to promote its own Damai Lama as the official and original face of Tibetan Buddhism.

PRC's Manipulation of Tibetan Institutions and Cultural Suppression

As a government, China has forceful endorsed and interrupted both the exiled Tibetans as well as those in Tibet by having its Panchen Lama access sufficient education, speak Chinese as his first language as well as serve as the best and highest official in the Communist Party attending numerous development committees as a representative of the Tibetan as a community (Logan, pg. 21). However being unilateral, the Tibetan greatly recognizes Panchen Lama as one of unworthy leaders it has ever heard and an interloper. In addition to that, they expressed their views unilaterally accusing the current "Golden Urn" as one of the corrupt contrivance historically. As a government, whether all or no Tibetan acknowledges the presence of Panchen Lama t, his presence greatly signifies how the PRC ought to handle the entire process of selection upon the death of the current Damai Lama who claimed that he was the last line of the reincarnated Tulku. Despite this claims by the current Dalai Lama, the Chinese government believes that there is a high chance of emergence of a new Damai Lama (Goldstein, pg. 92). These are actions undertaken by the Chinese government despite the existence of the various demonstrations led by the monks in advocating for these particular religious and political rights.


It is clear that the Chinese government is playing a long game in dominating its political strategy in Tibet. With this objective, it is willing to be patient in waiting for generations until the original traditional Tibetan culture as well as its institutions established on the basis of reincarnation become extinct. However, it has consistently tried to interfere with its existence by disrupting and faking the candidates so as to conquer the entire community and rule over them. However the Tibetans still holds protests led by their monks holding on to the belief that they existed as an independent nation led by Tulku and not the modern China which is led by the president chosen by individuals hence lacking supernatural forces sufficient enough to make them preform various roles such as right decision making. At first, it tried to endorse Karmapa Lama after allowing representatives of Kagyu sect to be part of the government to take advantage of the absence of Damai Lama. All these efforts have born no fruit in willingly or forcefully having the Tibetan community part and parcel of China.

Work cited

Kolås, Åshild. "Tibetan nationalism: The politics of religion." Journal of Peace Research 33.1 (1996): 51-66.

McConnell, Fiona. "The geopolitics of Buddhist reincarnation: contested futures of Tibetan leadership." Area 45.2 (2013): 162-169.

Logan, Pamela. "Tulkus in Tibet." Harvard Asia Quarterly 8 (2004): 15-23.

Goldstein, Melvyn C. The snow lion and the dragon: China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama. Univ of California Press, 1997.

Tuttle, Gray. Tibetan Buddhists in the making of modern China. Columbia University Press, 2005.

November 13, 2023
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Reincarnation Dalai Lama

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